Tag Archives: nutrigenomics

Glycine, Cheerful Juice, and testing for glyphosate

My experiences with taking a larger dose of the free amino acids glycine and methionine proved to my satisfaction that they are indeed essential for physical and mental health. In definition methionine is considered essential, we can not synthesize it and need an external source while glycine is considered nonessential, we can make it from other chemicals. For someone who can’t properly breakdown either though they might both be considered essential for health. It has been helping my mood and health.

I’ve continued to take the amino acids in a half teaspoon dose since the evening I took the full teaspoon dose late at night and couldn’t get to sleep. Essential nutrients can often have ranges for how much is helpful; too little or too much of many things can cause different types of symptoms. The taste isn’t better but I’ve (almost) acquired the taste for it — the astringent tang of a Pinot Noir was the closest taste I could think of —  which does turn out to contain free amino acids, including methionine and glycine. [http://skipthepie.org/beverages/alcoholic-beverage-wine-table-red-merlot/compared-to/alcoholic-beverage-wine-table-red-pinot-noir/#proteins]

Probably a few people can relate to the idea of red wine being a “Cheerful Juice,” it turns out that the free amino acids may have something to do with it.

What I did find is that having a genetic defect in the metabolic pathway of an essential amino acid such as glycine can have significant negative effects on mood and energy level and that simply adding an external source of the missing nutrient can have significant positive effects.

The genetic defect that I have may be rare, I don’t know, but if glyphosate is able to substitute for glycine within physiology then an external source of purified glycine may also be beneficial for anyone eating foods based on ingredients that may contain traces of glyphosate.

Testing for the presence of glyphosate would not be as simple as testing for the free amino acid however; if it had been incorporated into proteins in place of glycine, then the glyphosate would only be discovered by the lab test if the longer protein chains were broken down first into the free amino acids — and glyphosate if it had been incorporated into the protein instead of glycine.

Another way to test to see if glyphosate is being incorporated into the structure of proteins in place of glycine would be to add radioactively tagged glyphosate into a system capable of assembling proteins and then test the new mixture to see whether the radioactively tagged glyphosate was used in place of glycine within the newly synthesized protein chains.

Glyphosate was found within vaccinations that were independently tested by a non-profit group, Moms Across America, but the company Monsanto has since stated that the lab screening that was used was invalid and the testing system Monsanto used found no residue of glyphosate in vaccinations. [http://monsantoblog.com/2016/09/13/monsanto-responds-to-flawed-study-by-samsel-claiming-glyphosate-in-vaccines/] — A test for free amino acids wouldn’t find glyphosate that had been incorporated into proteins of agar gelatin or viral proteins.

Series on glycine and use as a supplement for genetic defect–nutrigenomics:

  1. Glycine is an Amino Acid with Neurotransmitter Roles, 10/15/2016,  http://transcendingsquare.com/2016/10/15/glycine-is-an-amino-acid-with-neurotransmitter-roles/
  2. Cheerful Juice Lives Up to its Name, 10/20/16,  http://transcendingsquare.com/2016/10/20/cheerful-juice-lives-up-to-its-name/
  3. Cheerful Juice; the morning after,  10/20/2016,  http://transcendingsquare.com/2016/10/20/cheerful-juice-the-morning-after/

/Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

Cheerful Juice; the morning after

My late night serving of Cheerful Juice did help my mood after watching the presidential debate but I wasn’t able to go to sleep very easily afterwards. The full teaspoon dose of the free amino acids glycine and methionine left me not only with the cheerful mood and boost of energy but it also left me slightly jittery feeling with a more rapid heartbeat.

This morning I tried a half teaspoon dose and within just ten minutes I’m feeling more cheerful but without the jittery burst of increased energy.

So experimental results for my study group, size n=1, suggest that the 2 to 3 gram dose in a single serving may be safer than a dose of approximately 5 grams in one serving. When free amino acids can act as signaling messenger chemicals within the body or brain then they may also be able to act as excitotoxins in larger doses and overexcite cells possibly to the point of cell death.

Moderation is generally healthiest within biological systems. Many chemicals or nutrients can be safe within a moderate range but then be dangerous when there is either too little or too much. My needs for an external source of the free amino acids dimethylglycine (DMG) and methionine are not normal due to my genetic defect in the gene that is needed to make an enzyme involved in breaking down more complex forms of the free amino acids.

More on the gene defect involved in dimethyl glycine and methionine and a link to the genetic screening test I used is found in this post from March 30, 2016, http://transcendingsquare.com/2016/03/30/methylation-cycle-defects-in-me-genetic-screening-for-research-purposes-only/ . That post is a long list of notes rather than being an essay with a beginning and end, see #3, BHMT/1 (Call – T), Betaine-homocysteine methyltransferase (BHMT), for my notes regarding the specific defect and enzyme that prevents me from being able to fully digest protein foods — since birth — better late than never, I tend to say, but it would be nice for other infants and children to not have to suffer there entire lives due to underlying genetic defects that are now able to be screened for and managed with the use of dietary supplements.

Series on glycine:

  1. Glycine is an Amino Acid with Neurotransmitter Roles, 10/15/2016,  http://transcendingsquare.com/2016/10/15/glycine-is-an-amino-acid-with-neurotransmitter-roles/
  2. Cheerful Juice Lives Up to its Name, 10/20/16,  http://transcendingsquare.com/2016/10/20/cheerful-juice-lives-up-to-its-name/

/Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

Cheerful Juice lives up to its name

Cheerful Juice lives up to it’s name as a post debate pick me up. ii had missed having some earlier in the day and was fairly cranky and tired after watching the Presidential debate Wednesday night. Even though it had gotten later, past midnight, I was cranky enough that I remembered forgetting my Cheerful Juice.

So positive mood within half a glass, within 20 minutes, boost of energy by the full cup, within 50 minutes (now typing this instead of sleeping)– suggesting that for my genetic structure I do need the two gram dose — ~half a teaspoon, half a glass. The five gram dose, full teaspoon, full glass, might be a little more than I need at one time. Having a glass in the morning and evening has been beneficial on the few days that I’ve tried that, so simply spitting the teaspoon serving into two half teaspoon servings might be effective without causing extra symptoms.

The burst of energy suggests overactivity might be occurring. Aspartic acid and glutamate are called excitotoxins because they can signal so much activity in a cell that it leads to death of the cell due to overwork. Glycine and methionine are more active as inhibitory messenger chemicals so they may not have the same risk as there would be with large doses of aspartic acid or glutamate, especially in combination with magnesium deficiency.

Magnesium is an electrically active mineral that works from within the cell to provide energy for membrane channels that in normal health would control what is allowed into the cell – too much glutamate or aspartic acid or calcium simply wouldn’t be allowed in if enough magnesium was available to power the electric doorways in the cell membranes, (ie: magnesium selective ion channels).

I’m keeping notes because this is a new area of study, there isn’t a handbook for dietary advice for all the genetic defects in metabolism. Some more deadly ones are known and screened for at birth so the infant can be put on a protective diet as soon as possible. PKU, phenylketonuria is the most well known example of genetic defects that can be managed with dietary changes.

[See a previous post, Glycine is an amino acid with neurotransmitter roles, for more details.]

It’s past 1:00am now, I’ll try to go to sleep and have some cheerful dreams — about an Amendment to the Constitution overturning Citizens United — or some other cheerful topic.

/Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

Glycine is an amino acid with neurotransmitter roles

Subtitle: Rebranding and the power of a name: “Essence of Meat-ade” or “Cheerful Juice.”

Sub-subtitle:  Genetic defects in metabolism can affect the entire body due to lack of essential nutrients.

Background: I was found to have eleven of thirty defects in the methylation cycle that were known to be more common in patients with autism spectrum disorder. The screening is not for diagnostic purposes at this stage but is available to consumers interested in the information for their own research purposes (which might include what to feed their child or themselves for better management of autism symptoms – but it is use at your own risk information rather than ‘evidence based’ medical treatment approved for a certain diagnosis).

One of my genetic defects affects my ability to break down betaine into the free amino acids glycine and methionine (roughly, I would have to review the chemistry for the specifics). So armed with this new information I ordered tablets of each amino acid and started taking them each day as supplements. They seemed to help but it wasn’t a dramatic change in how I felt.

A month or two later before reordering more bottles I considered the question of just how much glycine or methionine I might need each day if I had a defect that prevented me from digesting protein and releasing the essential amino acids. When I looked into how much glycine might be needed by the body each day, I didn’t find much research but there was some and the amount suggested was far greater than the amount I was taking in the form of a tablet — 200 milligram tablet compared to two grams of the essential amino acid as a minimum recommendation with up to ten grams being proposed as possibly beneficial. And no toxicity risks were mentioned. Two grams is equivalent to 2000 milligrams or ten of the tablets each day, which would be expensive and a lot of tablets.

Many things that are available as supplements are also available in bulk as a powder that companies might use to make capsules or tablets for the individual consumer to purchase. The amino acids glycine and methionine were available online in a package size that was designed for individual use, possibly being marketed to people interested in body building or weight lifting.

A teaspoon of a powder substance is roughly five grams, depending on the density of the powder. I decided to try one teaspoon of glycine and one teaspoon of methionine per day as that would easily provide two grams and might provide up to five grams per day.

Results: Free essential amino acids are acidic — like lemonade — but taste a little like protein aka meat, so two teaspoons of free amino acids in water tasted VERY BAD. My nickname for the concoction became “Essence of Meat-ade” for the first day or two, however almost immediately after drinking the vile drink my mood became incredibly cheerful and I was suddenly filled with energy. I was amazed — how could a horrible tasting glass of water change my mood? I started looking forward to the drink and while I had started taking it in the evening I gradually switched to taking it earlier in the day and even twice a day occasionally, which would provide about ten grams of the powder.

My mental nickname changed from “Essence of Meat-ade” to “Cheerful Juice,” it helped my mood so much that I loved the stuff no matter how silly my face looked while trying to gulp it down too quickly to taste. I was amazed, and a little sad to consider that I had been without “Cheerful Juice” for my first fifty years of life — but better late than never is a motto of mine. With a double genetic defect I wouldn’t have been able to release glycine or methionine from larger proteins for my entire life — and therefore wouldn’t have had the cheerful effects or boost in energy due to the incomplete digestion of my food.

Why would a bad tasting drink give me a good mood?

I knew the amino acids glutamine and aspartic acid can act as messenger chemicals within the brain so I looked up glycine and methionine and sure enough they both also can act as brain signaling chemicals.

The rest of this information is about glycine’s role as a brain neurotransmitter. It doesn’t cover methionine but it also has roles in brain chemistry.

Glycine is a Neurotransmitter: 

Glycine has inhibitory and excitatory roles in the brain as a neurotransmitter – a type of chemical that can serve as a messenger between brain cells which are called neurons.

“Interestingly, glycine receptors comprised of a1 subunits are efficiently gated by taurine and b-alanine, whereas a2-containing receptors are not (8). The a1 and a2 genes are expressed in the adult and neonatal brain, respectively.”

ie-the type of glycine receptor found within the baby brain is not as well protected as the type found within the adult brain, later in the next paragraph:

“Recently, the expression of a1 and a2 subunits has been shown to be developmentally regulated with a switch from the neonatal a2 subunit (strychnine-insensitive) to the adult a1 form (strychnine-sensitive) at about 2 weeks postnatally in the mouse (8). The timing of this “switch” corresponds with the development of spasticity in the mutant spastic mouse (5), prompting speculation that insufficient expression of the adult isoform may underlie some forms of spasticity.” [1]

Background: Glyphosate is chemically very similar to glycine in that it may be incorporated into proteins but is not functionally the same. A protein containing glyphosate instead of glycine would be dysfunctional. Glycine provides methyl groups which are important for turning strands of DNA on and off, (DNA is the genetic material that acts as recipe cards for making proteins).

If glyphosate is being physically incorporated within body tissues in place of the amino acid glycine, then the role of glycine within early fetal development discussed in the above excerpt might be part of the mechanism for how autism risk may be occurring during the prenatal stage of life.

From a Marketing Perspective: How to sell something that tastes horrible but makes certain people feel great?

From my experience working with special need infants and children I learned that sick children when given a formula they can tolerate will cheerfully start drinking the formula if it  isn’t making them feel sicker — no matter how bad the formula tastes — and some of them are like “Essence of Meat” because they are based on free amino acids that would be easy to digest and wouldn’t have the same allergy risk as the larger and more complex proteins.

So how to market a specialty product? Target the special needs market, and pitch having the genetic screening done first in order to find out who needs the special product — and put the bulk powder in capsules  😉 , I tried to add lemon flavoring to make it more like lemonade but that didn’t change the flavor enough — I’m working on acquiring a taste for it instead.

The genetic screening I had done is “For Research Purposes Only” but it was assembled by a specialist with a PhD and experience in genetics. She is not a medical doctor and no diagnoses are provided however some health information is provided I haven’t reviewed it yet and therefore can not provide any feedback regarding it.

  • The Methylation Cycle genetic screening test: http://www.holisticheal.com/dna-methylation.html
  • My results and my notes regarding the 11 defects, this is a list of notes rather than being in article format, see number three of the double defects for details about the gene BHMT/1 (Call – T), which is for the enzyme Betaine-homocysteine methyltransferase (BHMT): http://transcendingsquare.com/2016/03/30/methylation-cycle-defects-in-me-genetic-screening-for-research-purposes-only/
  • An excerpt from that post regarding diagnoses that may be helped by use of dimethylglycine (DMG) and methionine as supplements : DMG has been found helpful in ADHD, autism, allergies, alcoholism, drug addiction, and chronic fatigue syndrome among other chronic issues. Methionine has been found helpful in treating depression, allergies, alcoholism and schizophrenia among other chronic issues.

/Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

  1. Steven M. Paul, GABA and Glycine, https://www.acnp.org/g4/GN401000008/Default.htm

And If You Feel that Your Physician, Nation, or Planet has been in a Bad Relationship with Pharmaceutical Companies, Then There’s a Book for You Too

This is a continuation of the last post and an earlier series of posts on bad relationships — something I seem to have experience in going back to my childhood. Before I get to the book though, a discussion of my disclosure statement seems pertinent — that statement in italics at the bottom of the page:

  • /Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

The part that is pertinent to the book regarding a possible bad relationship with pharmaceutical companies is the last line:  “Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.” The problem that I’ve experienced in my own health care and that of loved ones is that “individual health care” no longer seems to be very available in the medical system that is currently in mainstream use within the United States. We have switched to a medical system based on “evidence-based medicine” rather than focusing on individualized care of each patient.

To quote myself — The evidence is in, “evidence-based medicine” isn’t working. It is based on clinical trials that group large numbers of people into experimental and control groups and then present the averages as evidence that an experimental treatment worked better than placebo – which might be an actual benign treatment given to the control group to make them and the  research team “blind” to which people are in an experimental group and which people are in the control group. A “double blind” study is considered the gold standard of clinical trials because feasibly the people within the groups and the researchers are blind/unaware of which people are receiving a treatment and which people are receiving a placebo. So feasibly there would be no bias among the researchers regarding whether the experimental treatment had helped or harmed. In reality though, it is extremely difficult to make a truly “blind” study because usually there are differences in negative side effects or treatment benefits among the people in the various different experimental or control groups.

My university training was a bit unusual from the usual curriculum followed by registered dietitians because I switched majors and universities at a midpoint.

As a dietitian I was trained in college and during my one year internship regarding how and where to look things up fro unusual diagnoses or symptoms, because dietitians are expected to understand all of the body’s systems and all of the body’s nutrient needs and all of the diagnoses that might affect them. While some dietitians specialize many are expected to provide nutrition assessment and counseling for all patients no matter how unusual their diagnosis or symptoms may be and we are frequently expected to do that with minimal lab tests. We are trained to do a thorough assessment of visual and other symptoms in addition to an in depth interview regarding the patient’s understanding or their symptoms and  to inquire about their usual lifestyle and dietary habits.

Recently I learned that that is no longer the standard approach for physicians, as 80% of a diagnosis is frequently based on lab tests within the current medical system.

The number of years of university or medical training that a dietitian, family doctor, or medical specialist had received in the past has little to do with my concerns over evidence-based medicine or my own care as a patient however. While I can only directly speak for my own two years of training which focused on genetics or my five years of training focused on dietetics (I switched majors), in all likelihood none of us received any training on the cannabinoid receptor system or its role in nutrition, general health or in specialized fields of health care as it is illegal in the United States to research the medical aspects of the cannabinoid system.

I do not feel very safe as a patient personally or for the safety of others seeking healthcare within the current medical system, not just due to evidence-based medicine but also due to the lack of knowledge about basic physiology that has been forced on the medical industry due to the inappropriate listing of marijuana as having no medical benefits. It makes it illegal for researchers in the U.S. to study the cannabinoid system except regarding how the cannabinoid system might relate to addiction or substance abuse and what isn’t researched isn’t taught in medical schools or other university health programs.

However the cannabinoid receptor system has medical benefits throughout all areas of the body whether cared for by medical specialists or by general practitioners or by dietetics professionals. Cannabinoids are in breast milk. They help stimulate the infant to suck and helps prevent low weight gain and failure to thrive. The cannabinoid receptor system helps the fetus implant within the uterus and they are some of the earliest receptors to develop in the fetal brain. There are increased numbers of the receptors in the uterus and increased levels of vitamin D receptors in the placenta. The two systems work closely together and both cannabinoids and hormone D can affect levels of most of the main neurotransmitters in the brain. I’ve been doing independent reading in academic texts and online journal articles since 2010 regarding the cannabinoid receptor system and it has greatly helped advance my understanding of my own health issues and specialized needs related to genetic anomalies. I’ve been slightly unhealthy  with skin eczema and allergies since birth which always suggested to me that I was born with something different than average, but I didn’t know what and my symptoms were never severe enough to rate as “sick” on lab tests. – “annoying hypochondriac” seemed to have scored some points though (more on genetics a little later in this post).

A primary goal in dietetics is to preserve skin integrity – preventing pressure sores from becoming necrotic for example or to prevent intestinal symptoms from worsening in a way that might allow increased permeability of proteins large enough to cause allergies if allowed into the more sterile environment of the body. The gastrointestinal tract is lined with skin that is slightly different than our outer skin but both areas have similar functions to prevent foreign proteins or bacteria or other parasites from entering the interior of the body — our bodies are shaped more like a doughnut with an open center rather than like a solid substance.

Supporting evidence-based medicine has also become a primary goal of dietetics though as the phrase and techniques are now used throughout the insurance payment system and even dietitians need to eat (pun intended). My university training was in 1984-86 and 1988-93, I not only switched majors and universities, I also got married and had a baby in between. My interest in dietetics grew with my appetite and my expanding belly while I was learning firsthand what being a pregnant person was like — uncomfortable is a key word. But I had a midwife who was very experienced and helped me work through the discomforts of pregnancy and guided me towards foods that were both nutritious and easy to digest.

Healthy food and cooking from scratch had also been part of my childhood upbringing so dietetics was a natural fit and genetics had lost some of its interest for me when I learned in my work study job within a genetics research lab (1984-86) that most projects in the field of genetics took twenty years to complete — my attention span at the time did not seem to be twenty years long, however it turns out that my interest in genetics has been lifelong and personally beneficial: see older post. Nutrigenomics [2] is a newer field of study that works with individualized dietary support based on an individual’s genetic structure, metabolic defects that affect nutrient needs are not uncommon and can increase risks for physical and mental health symptoms.

Back to the point, evidence-based medicine in the modern era is largely based on clinical trials that are funded by pharmaceutical companies. Data is often not used if it produces negative results. Research articles are frequently written by ghost-writers who may further manipulate the statistics to produce “statistically-significant” results that favor the experimental pharmaceutical being tested. Negative side effects may be dropped from the results or manipulated in a variety of ways. New drugs only require two statistically significant clinical trials to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration. [1]

Physicians are directly marketed to by pharmaceutical companies and indirectly marketed to within academic journal articles that were actually written by the pharmaceutical teams of ghostwriters whose focus includes marketing diseases that are managed by the company’s patent-protected medication. Instead of individualized care we are now more likely to be treated by physicians that have to follow guidelines that are set based on whatever was officially published about the evidence-based clinical trials  — rather than on the unknown amount of hidden data regarding negative side effects of the experimental drugs. Physicians who go against guidelines can face reprimands from their workplace or open themselves up to increased malpractice risks because they weren’t following the evidence-based guidelines. However the newer drugs may not be more effective or safer than older drugs or very different chemically but the value to the pharmaceutical company is that the newer drugs are patent protected and may have a price mark up that might be 50-80 times higher than the older drugs available as generics. Patent protected pharmaceuticals may have a 2500 percent markup above the company’s production costs. Since the end of World War II when health care expenditures totaled about 1% of the U.S. budget we are now spending over 17% of the budget (GDP, Gross Domestic Product) on health care costs (page 157 and 185).  [1]

Following evidence-based guidelines was supposed to increase health and reduce costs but the evidence suggests that it hasn’t.

These “evidence-based” guidelines can then become incorporated into private insurance or Medicaid standards of care which then are forced on children and their parents and other patients who may have went to a physician with a minor complaint relating to our stressful modern lives but who may then be placed on anti-depressants or anti-psychotics that have been associated with increased risk for suicide and even homicide as well as significant weight gain, elevated cholesterol or diabetes. Asthma drugs and other pharmaceuticals may also be initiated before lifestyle changes are discussed or the patient is given time to try. Pharmaceutical risk management of lab test numbers has replaced individualized health care. [1]

The book for more information about evidence-based medicine’s takeover of individualized health care is “Pharmageddon,” by David Healy, (University of California Press, 2012, Berkeley). [1]

/Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./